Sauer 404 Review
At the end of 2014 Sauer revealed the widely anticipated and much hyped Sauer 404, proclaimed by Sauer to be the best Sauer hunting rifle of all time, does it live up to the hype? Toby Worthington considers Sauer’s new offering.
(Above: Matthias Klotz CEO at J.P Sauer & Sohn reveals the new Sauer 404 Rifle)
For those that are familiar with the Sauer 202 there are a few obvious improvements found in the Sauer 404 that represent a departure from what was also an excellent and much treasured rifle.
Arguably the greatest departure from the 202 is the new cocking system of the Sauer 404. Those that are familiar with the cocking system of the Blaser will instantly understand the method by which the 404 is cocked. To describe it in its most basic layman’s terms, there is a large sliding thumb catch on top of the rear bolt sleeve. Pushing this forward cocks the rifle, whilst returning the catch to its original position renders the rifle completely safe. It is a simple system that has been used similarly in other rifles and is simple, safe and very effective.
The other noticeable difference is not so much a departure from the functionality of the 202 as an improvement. Whilst the 202 also had a take down version, it was somewhat slow and impractical. The 404 is vastly improved and allows for the Sauer 404 to be broken down in seconds. This is fantastic for travel, but it is also designed specifically for those hunters that wish to use one rifle in a variety of calibres. Within minutes, nay seconds, it is possible to switch from one calibre to another with a minimum of fuss.
(Above/left: The 404 cocking system and new look bolt handle, an improvement on the 202)
What is more, a very nifty adaptation to the bolt head allows for a change to Magnum calibres if required. The new Sauer 404 can, with a simple barrel and bolt head change, with matching magazine, be adapted to handle every calibre from .243 all the way up to the .375 H&H.
(Above: Using the Sauer Universal Key the barrel can be changed in seconds)
The whole take down procedure is very slick and is achieved via a handy tool that is housed in the front stock of the rifle, this tool is basically an Allen key that is fitted to the front sling swivel and is known by Sauer as the ‘Sauer Universal Key’ (SUK), this key is all that is required to strip the whole rifle. What is more the key forms an integral part of the rifle, something that chimes with common sense and makes it far less likely that the SUK will be lost, or indeed forgotten, when setting out on that all important hunting trip.
In my view, the sheer speed and ease with which the Sauer 404 can be adapted and reduced in size, will alone insure, that 404 goes on to be a highly desirable rifle for those that desire one rifle for application both at home and abroad.
(Below: The Sauer Univesal Key which is housed in the fore end of the rifle)
However, as anyone who has owned a Sauer Rifle before, will know, it is not just the Sauer’s engineering that is this rifle’s main draw. Many hunters will reach for a Sauer because they are struck by the beauty of the rifles aesthetics. Sauer’s are indisputably attractive rifles. To most people eye, the rifle is of course most attractive when presented in a high grade wood, however in the synthetic version, the Sauer’s lines remain attractive, whilst also having the added bonus of its function becoming even more practical and hard wearing.
There are a few other absolutely cracking features of the sauer 404 that are worth a mention, one of which is the new Quattro adjustable trigger system. No, not in terms of pull weight...whilst this is indeed a feature and the weight can be adjusted across four settings ranging from 550 – 1250 grams, there would be nothing new in this. It is the actual positioning of the trigger within the trigger guard that is adjustable. Using the Sauer Universal tool that is utilised for all changes to the rifle, it is possible to slide the blade forward or back along an 8 mm adjustable range, to allow for a longer or shorter reach. Personally I have freakishly big hands and so this is spot on, and insures that the trigger finger can be placed perfectly and comfortably on the face of the grooved trigger blade.
(Above: The new Sauer 404 has an adjustable trigger both in terms of pull weight and position)
Also, different to the old 202 (where scope bases had to be fitted to the receiver) the new 404’s aviation-grade, high-alloy aluminium receiver incorporates the new Sauer Universal Mount (SUM). Sauer’s quick release saddle scope mount can be removed/ fitted in seconds without a loss of accuracy.
With all these adaptations and improvements, I think that Sauer are right to be confident in their proclamations, the new Sauer 404 is a truly superb rifle. You can expect to pay somewhere between £2500-00 - £4000-00 depending on the model and so it is unashamedly aimed at the top end of the market. However, with its quality construction aesthetics and accuracy, coupled with Sauer’s reputation for exacting standards this is no surprise.
To read more reviews of other popular hunting rifles, follow this link: rifle-reviews